E.R.A.S.E Everything Part 1.

E.R.A.S.E  –  ELIMINATE … REDUCE … AUTOMATE … SCHEDULE … EXTERNALISE ©

In the previous post we talked about getting your dream life and that some of the key components of achieving that were simplicity, focus and time. To get more of your life for what you want to do, you need to simplify it. I said we’d talk about simplifying further and so I thought the easiest way to do that would be to just show you the system I use.

E.R.A.S.E  is what I use in my life to free up time and streamline my life. To simplify as much as possible.  It’s how I was able to take off 2 months to go and walk the Camino (a cross country pilgrimage trail starting in France and finishing in Santiago De Compostela Spain) It is how I have now been traveling for nearly 12months months and all going well plan on doing that for just a little bit longer. It’s how I run my home when I have one and the system I used within my own family. It is how I continue to redesign and explore my own life. I have used it with friends and their houses. This is the system I developed and used as part of Managing a team and projects in the finance sector. Especially around the improvement and change management processes I became known for. It can be both incredibly in depth or simple depending on how you put it to use and how deep you’d like to take it. lets start with the simple stuff.

The truth is I’m not going to show you how to organise every single thing in your life. Only the stuff you need or want to keep. Everything else we are going to Eliminate. Reduce. Automate. Schedule or Externalise. We want to simplify our lives and get our time back NOT find a place and time for everything that’s already there. Because frankly what you usually find is much of it shouldn’t be there to start with or is taking up waaaayyyy more time than it justifies. If you want to multitask yourself into the middle of the next century. This is not the system for you. Nor is it if you want to keep everything you have and do currently.

Now  I’m more of a “teach a man to fish” person i.e. I want to show you how to do it for yourself “the system” so you can go off and use it whenever and on whatever you decide you want to or that needs it. We’ll focus mainly on home, family and life in an overall helicopter type view but if you have any questions feel free to ask. Pretty much anything I will ever talk about is just a part of this basic system tweaked and applied to whatever conditions, system or problem at hand. Once you’ve learnt it / understand it. You have it forever to use or not as your choice dictates.Lets start.

 

ELIMINATE

In relation to “things” Do I need this? Do you have multiples of the same thing. Do you have it just in case you might need it. Have you kept it because it was a gift or heirloom but you don’t really have any attachment to it. Are you holding onto it because it cost you a lot of money. ALL of these reasons are WRONG answers. Everything you own – actually owns you. It has to be looked after, maintained, stored, cleaned, whatever. It takes up the hours and space of your life, your house, sometimes money. sometimes more. You have a finite amount of hours in your life…. you should be VERY discriminating as to what warrants your time. I’m not a minimalist but I would be closer to that definition than any other. You want to be living your life, exploring your passions, building your career, having relationships and fun, having quiet time, family/friends time or adventures, trying new hobbies. Whatever it is you want to do and focus your time on. Not doing chores and looking after stuff. They are base necessities of life we’re talking about. Get in, get it done and move on to the better, more fun stuff.

Too many clothes, knick knaks, tools, committee obligations, after work activities. Donate. Sell. Get the electronic version. Give it to friends or relatives that want it. Take a photo of it and let the actual item go – if it’s there simply as a reminder of a time, place or person. Scan it and get rid of the paperwork / photo.This can be done in layers over time with most things. Start with clothes, move onto video’s, DVD’s etc I wouldn’t drag it out forever though. Aim to get it done within 6 months tops. Keep the stuff you love or is useful and get rid of everything else including any time commitments ..committees etc that you aren’t 110% wanting to be part of.

In relation to jobs, tasks, the day to day of life it gets even more exciting. Does it need to be done at all. Does it need to be done as often as you do it. Does it need to be done by you. You NEVER organise or simplify anything that can be eliminated altogether. It is also here that I would like to suggest to you that if you do not live alone you are actually part of a team who, fantastically, you get to or already should be involved in the successful running of your home. Whether that is you and your partner plus or minus children, any other family members or you and your child. Anyone who is living in the home is contributing to it’s need to be cleaned and maintained….therefor should be contributing to it’s cleaning and upkeep. If you are doing the line share of the work. Stop being a hero, martyr, victim or idiot. There is not really any lesson of value I can see in teaching your children or partner this level of expectation or failing to prepare them for or let them be fully functioning human beings in their own right.  You are creating a rod for your own back and frankly your childrens  future partners are unlikely to thank you either.

Adjust for age and ability and start but realise that ability is often just a lack of teaching. Most children by the time they start High School are fully capable of washing their own clothes especially in the age of push button programming. Show them how. This is not rocket science. Let alone other even easier tasks. Let alone if we are talking about another adult in the house. There are few things that feel as good as being part of a tight, well functioning team. Knowing there is a bunch of humans who you love and support and that love and support you. Team environment. Team participation. If you have a partner and you’re not splitting the workload of running your home and relationship 50/50. That is entirely up to you. You do not need to explain or justify that to anyone else if you are happy with that arrangement. Truly. No-one else needs to hear why, in the comments here or anywhere else. The only person you need to justify it to is yourself. If you are looking for suggestions or solutions though by all means comment away someone may have a work around or idea. Realise though – that your choice to take on more than your fair share will of course have obvious flow on effects to how much time you will have for other people, places or things in your life, including your own self.

So start with elimination… things you don’t need or want, commitments you don’t need or want… tasks you don’t need to do at all or don’t need to do yourself. Next will be reducing. Let me know if you get stuck or you have questions.

 

E x

 

Naughty or Nice.

Not really. Mostly naughty or nice hasn’t got anything to do with it.

This is a long one folks which I try to avoid where possible but we don’t have the luxury of time to break it into smaller chunks this year with Christmas nipping at our heels. So…

4 weeks and counting down. I hope you’ve finished your shoppin barring the fresh food, but if not… lets talk. To present or not to present? That is the question. I am going to encourage less. Less presents. Less money spent. Less food. Less. Period There you have it “A vague disclaimer is nobodies friend” if this isn’t what you want to hear.. click away now. I’ll love you just the same.

I love Christmas. I love it for the time I get to spend with my people, neighbours, volunteer groups. Down time, drinks, food, outings, slow quality time spent with each other laughing, catching up, planning…enjoying each others company and time off work. For the rest of it though. I think Christmas is a commercialised feeding frenzy. Ridiculous in the extreme, our wallets haemorrhaging money in every direction. Encouraged by every retailer,  product producer, interest group and credit provider in the land. That’s not what we are here to talk about though. We’re here to talk time, ease, money, peace and meaningful connection. I want you to take a look at your present list like we did for the cards list  here.  If you missed that one read that first and come back.  If you are buying just for your nearest and dearest already. Well done. Go enjoy your Christmas we’ll see you next year. If not, is there any you can eliminate. Really look at the why of each person.

Everyone is different but some common ones seem to be extended family, service providers, work colleagues, teachers, friends old and new far and wide, friends children, people that buy you presents and so you return the “favour”, people who are coming to your home for Christmas, neighbours etc  It can really get out of hand but even if you consider your list reasonable have a look anyway. The exercise won’t hurt and will either just confirm how sorted and solid your list is or bring you further time, money and effort savings. Also good.  Eliminate any straight away that are just old habits -people who you send things to but haven’t heard from in years and/or aren’t doing the same with you. Too easy. Gone.

From here in a few hard conversations and a bit of honesty will make this so much smoother and easier. Lets start with work colleagues. Secret Santa is the devil! you all know it and how much nonsense have you gotten over the years. See if your colleagues are on board to ditch this -time, money, earths resources whatever your reasons. if they don’t want to stop altogether perhaps they’d be into buying a group gift for eg everyone throws in a few dollars only and buys an office plant, or coffee maker, sandwich press or a lunch. you get the idea. Something useful or wanted for the team. No muss, no fuss. No individual presents. No cheap nasty candles, scented anything or gag gifts. If you have some close friends from work.. by all means buy a present and give it to them privately. Even this though, why not have the conversation. Why not just spend some time together outside of work. So many people want to reduce the clutter and gifts and time and money of this time of year but aren’t sure how to bring that up. For every gift we give or receive often creates that feeling of having to give in return, your good intentions may be creating a burden for them. Financially or otherwise.  Why not be the brave one to ask the questions. You may be surprised at how many Yes’s you get to stopping or to changing the status quo around this. I know I was surprised how often it was embraced and how easily in many cases when we started doing this.

Extended family. Here are some great alternatives to the everyone gets a present option. If you have more though. Let us all know.

  1. You all agree to stop giving to extended family. Just your own partner and children. Maybe one for Nan and Pop.
  2. The Children only option. No adults. Age cut off of 16, 18 or 21. Your call. Because we are adults and can buy what we want ourselves or our partners can.
  3. The family present. One family. One present. Here’s where movie tickets. Zoo passes or Gift vouchers to favourite stores are fantastic.
  4.  The hat draw. Each family member gets one other family member. Set a $ limit so it’s fair for all. If you’re a family of 5 you’ll get 5 presents. Buy five presents. If your the single bachelor / bachelorette same thing. Buy 1 get 1. If you all want to throw in and get the grandparents something bigger because it doesn’t feel right for you not getting your mum and dad something because you didn’t draw there names – go for it. Maybe a gift from the whole family for them.
  5. Friends /close acquaintances children or your children if that applies. Is it really needed? Honestly?!

Honestly most of the people I’ve ever talked to are fine with getting  less stuff both for them and their children. Truly, have the conversations. You may be surprised. For those who can’t bring themselves to do this. Perhaps a first step for you and or family is reducing the amount spent so at least the cost is not quite so large. If any of this is increasing your credit card debts or overdrafts it is absolute insanity to not have these conversations and cut costs. Don’t make your future harder and less secure next year for one day of festivities this year. Moving on …

Service providers and or Teachers etc. Only you can make the call here on whether this is really warranted. Here’s a couple of thoughts though. The don’t need any junky cheap presents or bath salts anymore than you do. Enough stuff already. If you are going to go the expense, give them something that will actually be of use to them, think gratuities, gift cards, grocery / bottle shop vouchers. Vouchers to local coffee shops or eateries. If you can keep it locally owned and provided even better and of course you can always ask.. “Hey little Joey’s teacher {insert teachers name}. We’d love to say thank you for the time and efforts you’ve taken this year with a small gift. Our family is giving gift cards this year so everyone can choose what they’d actually like and use is there a particular place you’d like one for?” Home baked goods.. also a winner. Cheap and reasonably easy if you have the know how and time and want to extend the gift and thought but at a more controllable cost.

Remembering the ultimate aim is to eliminate where we can. The alternatives are just for where that may not be possible. Also. There is nearly always an aunt, uncle, family member or friend of some description who is just hell bent on keeping everything as it’s always been. make them the exception to the rule. For everyone that is on board .. stop the presents or reduce DO NOT avoid changing where you can because of a few or even many people. Eliminate everyone who is happy to do so and let them eliminate you. It does make a difference and you will nearly always find more people come on board every year as others realise you’re serious and see the benefits. Also they may feel a wee bit silly insisting on presents when so many others don’t require them.  No presents does not equal naughty. Presents do not equal nice nor do they equal love and the good news is there’s tonnes of ways to show that.

Keep your Christmas present list as tight as possible. Once you’ve gone through it this year and eliminated and reduced where you can… stick that list in your home manual. With keeping these lists in the home manual of course our aim is time efficiency and simplicity. Making things easier, cheaper, simply or less time consuming with every step we can. This way you will have a starting point next year and the process will be more streamlined and less time intensive. If you are not able to do this this year because it’s too late and you or others have the presents. Keep your list from this year anyway and put it in the binder for next year if there is some you can still eliminate or reduce make the effort it will be worth it.

I would love to hear any ideas or successes you’ve had with this or ideas you’re trying out in the comments below. Good luck with eliminating and reducing.

E x

Making a List. Checking it Twice.

Who’s organised? We’re on the countdown folks. 5 weeks till Christmas. Not surprisingly my love affair with lists is in full swing along with the joy of the season.

The two I would encourage immediately are

  1. Christmas Card List
  2. Presents List

Here’s how I tamed mine. Simplifying and organising is always the way to go in my opinion. If you want to try it out for yourself. here’s how…

When you make up your lists this year keep an original copy a master list if you will. File it in your home manual. Do an electronic copy if you wish or both. From here on in it will just be a matter of adding or deleting people each year. Wracking your brain to remember everyone or going through your address book each year is a waste of your precious time when we can make this quicker and easier for the future with next to zero effort.

Next though see if you can reduce it. Here’s the thing … time and money. When we are looking for ways to free up more time for ourselves and the people we want to spend the most time with it has to come from somewhere. Everybody knows we all have the same amount of hours – we’ve all heard it – we all know it and if you have ANY kind of debt at all you should be looking for ways to reduce your spending and increase those debt repayments. YES. Even at Christmas. For some people Christmas is an absolute goldmine of opportunity for looking for savings and every little bit counts.

Starting with your cards list. Cards like presents should come from a place of genuinely wanting to wish someone a great festive season and new year. Eliminate anyone you send cards to out of habit, that you barely know and aren’t likely to get to know any better. That you send out of a sense of obligation or that you have grown apart from or no longer spend time with. Years ago when I started this I realised there was people I still sent cards too that when I sat down and thought about it,  I hadn’t heard from or barely heard from in years. People that I hardly knew but thought “I should”. People. Organisations. Places I thought would expect one.  I immediately stopped. The earth didn’t end. In fact absolutely nothing changed except I saved a lot of time, energy and money on buying, writing and posting cards.

After you have eliminated look over your list again. How many of those can be emailed cards? I am not advocating this for your nearest and dearest. By all means buy the beautiful cards, hand write, send. For those on your list though where you want to send cards but they aren’t on your nearest and dearest list and you have email addresses there are plenty of quality free sites around now.  You don’t have to buy cards, leave your house and postage is zero.  Load up the addresses pick a date in the future or send immediately. You care. You want to let them know you’re thinking of them and you are. You are also though prioritizing the time and money you have on yourself and those closest to you. Which is as it should be.

Work mates. Have the conversation. Ask… “Hey would you guys be happy to forgo cards, gifts etc” Time, money, clutter and the earths resources all will be saved. You will surprised how often the answer is yes, yes please or even HELL YES when you’re brave enough to be the one to start that conversation. Alternatives if you can’t eliminate .. REDUCE ..throw in a couple of dollars each and buy a team/office plant, box of something scrumptious to share or group cards as opposed to bunches of individual ones.  E.g “To the Marvelous Maintenance team” or To my Fabulous fellow team mates…etc etc… Mucho Love…. You (or your team) x” How many cards do we throw out, recycle or repurpose every year… wouldn’t it just be better to eliminate that as much as possible to start with.

Next I want you to repeat the elimination process with your presents list for the same reasons, using the same criteria. Presents can be a bit trickier but there’s plenty of ways to look at action and simplify that too. We will look at that next. This week though, do your lists, buy your cards, load up your emails.

Do you have other ways you’ve addressed this. I’d love to hear them.

E x